Heritage status sought for old industrial sites

Kyodo

The government will attempt to get old industrial facilities entered on the list of World Heritage cultural sites in 2015, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga confirmed Tuesday.

More than 20 facilities make up the so-called Sites of Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution, representing the nation’s industrialization from the late 19th to early 20th centuries, and “show the history of Japan becoming a major manufacturing power,” Suga said.

The designation would support the recovery from the 2011 earthquake-tsunami disaster, Suga said, as the sites include the ruins of an early furnace in Kamaishi, Iwate Prefecture, one of the disaster areas, which marks the dawn of Japan’s modern iron manufacturing.

The facilities, mostly located in Kyushu and neighboring Yamaguchi Prefecture, include the still-operating Yahata ironworks and Nagasaki dockyard, as well as Hashima Island, home to a once flourishing undersea coal mine.

Earlier, a panel of experts at the education and culture ministry called for having 13 Christian locations in Nagasaki and Kumamoto prefectures added to the list.

Because only one World Heritage candidate is allowed each year, the government will likely seek the inclusion of the Christian facilities in the following year.